How to liven up a hummus sandwich

Breakfast

Wholegrain malties, banana, soya milk

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Always an energising way to start the day.

Lunch

Wholemeal rolls with hummus and sundried tomatoes, apple, soya yogurt

This is a really great sandwich combination that I’ve recently discovered (although I’m sure it’s not entirely original). As you’ve probably guessed, you literally just spread the bread/rolls with vegan margarine and hummus, then add some sundried tomatoes from a jar. If, like me, you don’t have time to rinse and dry the tomatoes, it’s probably worth using a roll or some crusty bread as flimsier varieties may be subject to sogginess!

Dinner

Broccoli, pumpkin seed  and olive spaghetti, hummus and veg

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This is a super-quick dish that tastes great. Traditional tapenade seems to contain anchovies but Sainsbury’s do a version that’s marked as vegan so is evidently fish-free. It also works well spread on toast (in my opinion at least). Hummus and veg sticks are always a great combination and make a nice alternative to leaf-based side salads.

Ingredients for broccoli, pumpkin seed and olive spaghetti (serves 2):

– 1 red onion

– 1 largish broccoli

– 150g spaghetti

– Olive oil

– 2 garlic cloves (crushed)

– 1 veggie stock cube

– 1 pack of pumpkin seeds

– 2 generous tablespoons of olive tapenade

Method:

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, chop the onion and broccoli (keeping them separate).

2. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti along with a splash of olive oil. Simmer until tender (about 10 mins), stirring occasionally.

3. While the spaghetti cooks, heat a good splash of oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Sautee gently for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft but not brown. Then add the broccoli, stock cube and a generous splash of water. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is tender, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed. This should only take about 10 minutes.

4. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and set aside, then when the broccoli is tender, combine the two. If the broccoli has a lot of liquid left, you may need to drain some of it off.

5. Finally, stir in the pumpkin seeds and tapenade, heating the whole thing through gently and stirring constantly.

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Dessert

Fruit, biscuits

The biscuits were the accidentally vegan chocolate chip hobnobs. They confusingly seem to do both vegan and non-vegan versions of the same biscuit, so I’d suggest just checking the allergy advice section to see whether there’s any dairy (I don’t think they often have egg in).

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How to make a great breakfast without bread or milk

Breakfast

Muesli with soya yogurt, fruit and golden syrup

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This was a bit of an improvised breakfast as I’d completely forgotten to get any soya milk or bread (no idea how!) and didn’t have any obvious breakfast items to hand. This makeshift solution worked really well though and I’d definitely recommend it. I basically just mixed some muesli with soya yogurt, then added chopped fruit (plums and a kiwi) plus a drizzle of golden syrup.

Lunch

Vegan cream cheese and salad sandwich, fruit

Once you’ve opened a packet of vegan cream cheese it’s quite hard not to use it repeatedly in sandwiches as it makes such a quick and easy filling. It’s great combined with tomatoes or leafy salad. I use the Tofutti brand, which you can buy in Holland and Barrett (in plain, garlic and herb or herb and chive flavour).

Dinner

Mushroom pasta, salad

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I had some mushrooms to use up from the previous day’s Bolognese and this is a great recipe for a quick and tasty dinner. You can see the recipe here, although I didn’t use the spinach this time.

How not to miss meat

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits, blackberries, soya milk

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The blackberries were left over from the previous day’s attempt to be resourceful and pick my own dessert. The combination worked really well.

Lunch

Vegan cream cheese and tomato sandwich, fruit

This is a reliable option for a great animal-free sandwich. I really like the Tofutti brand of vegan cream cheese, which comes in plain or garlic and herb flavour and can be bought in Holland and Barrett.

Dinner

Veggie Bolognese, tortilla wrap, salad

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This is a really nice recipe that’s ideal for introducing people to the great taste of faux meats. You can buy the soya protein in Holland and Barrett and I think it has a pretty realistic mince-like flavour and texture. This is probably a good point to mention the excellent range of faux meats available in health food shops, which are ideal if you’re missing the taste of the real thing. You probably won’t find that they taste identical to real meats, but they’re pretty similar and opting for a small change in taste has a huge impact on animals!

To get back to the soya protein, you’re apparently supposed to soak it before use but I didn’t bother and was very happy with the result. The Bolognese would go well with spaghetti although I just had a tortilla wrap on the side. The salad was just some lettuce, celery and Thai flavour rice coated peanuts (or something like that). They’re from the Co-op, come in a pinkish packet and are marked as vegan.

Ingredients for veggie Bolognese (serves 2-3):

– 4 medium shallots

– 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

– 8-10 tomatoes (on the vine ones are ideal)

– A generous handful of button mushrooms

– 2 red peppers

– 2 large sticks of celery

– Olive oil

– 80g dried soya protein

– 1 veggie stock cube

Method:

1. Chop the shallots and set aside.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and put them somewhere else. Chop the rest of the veg and put in a third location (the 3 groups of veg need to go into the pan at a different time).

2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic, then sautee gently, stirring constantly, until the shallots turn semi-transparent but not brown (this only takes a few mins).

3. Add the rest of the veg minus the tomatoes and continue to sautee for a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Next, add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for another 5 mins or so, stirring occasionally. Once they’ve begun to form a sauce, add the soya protein, a good splash of water and the stock cube. Cover and simmer for as long as you like, 10 mins probably being the minimum. Stir occasionally and check regularly that it’s not getting too dry, adding more water as needed. Season to serve.

Dessert

Fruit and biscuits (I think!)

I’m running a bit behind on the blog so can’t honestly remember how accurate this is. I’m in the process of catching up!

A revolutionary way to cook spaghetti?

Breakfast

Wheat biscuits with cranberries and cinnamon, soya milk

I was running a little low on fresh fruit, so opted for this slightly christmassy combination. It worked well though!

Lunch

Braised tofu, tomato and vegan mayo sandwich, fruit

This is a great combination that tastes similar to tuna. For a full explanation, please see the sandwich ideas page and scroll down to braised tofu.

Dinner

Spaghetti with cannellini beans and homemade tomato sauce, salad

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This great recipe comes courtesy of a friend of my Nan’s and is really simple and delicious. I’ve modified it slightly due to lack of time and because I never seem able to follow a recipe without changing it slightly! It includes a nice way to cook spaghetti which saves on washing up and makes it really flavoursome.

Ingredients (serves 2):

– 4 smallish  shallots

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 8-10 tomatoes (vine ripened are a little pricier but much nicer)

– Olive oil

– Mixed dried herbs

– 1 tin cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)

– 100g spaghetti

– 1 Veggie stock cube

Method:

1. Chop the shallots and press the garlic. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a pan and add the shallots, garlic and a good sprinkle of dried herbs. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the shallots go semi-transparent (but not brown).

3. Stir in the tomatoes, cover and simmer for about 5 mins, until they begin to form a sauce, stirring occasionally. Next, stir in the spaghetti and cannellini beans, then add a generous splash of water and crumble the stock cube into the pan. Cover and simmer until the spaghetti is cooked, adding more water as needed and stirring fairly frequently. This should take about 10 mins or so. It looks nice served in a bowl and garnished with basil (or a watercress leaf if, like me, you’re running low on fresh herbs)!

Dessert

Blackberries, chocolate chip cookies

I live near a railway bridge where there’s an abundance of blackberry bushes. The fruits vary in quality but probably no more than the ones you buy, so I thought I’d pick my own dessert. They were pretty nice, especially combined with some chocolate chip hobnobs. Confusingly, not all chocolate chip hobnobs are vegan, so do check the packet (the allergy advice section is probably the quickest point of reference) to be sure.

How to pretend you’re on holiday

Breakfast

Muesli, blackberries, soya milk

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This is normally a really great combination but the blackberries were unbelievably bitter! I was suspicious when I saw that they had little purple patches but decided to be optimistic and give them a go. My optimism was not rewarded.

Lunch

Hummus sandwich, fruit and nut mix, strawberries

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This was a really nice light lunch, and the fruit and nut mix made quite a healthy crisp alternative.

Dinner

Spaghetti with herbs, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salad (with dried cranberries and more pine nuts)

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I’m lucky enough to have some amazing ingredients at the moment as my parents have recently been on holiday to Italy and brought me some fabulous edible presents. The spaghetti, herbs and olive oil were all Italian and really did taste special. Even if your ingredients are from the UK (as mine usually are), this is a bit like the Italian spaghetti with oil and garlic dish so you might just be able to pretend you’re on holiday!

Ingredients for spaghetti with herbs, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes (serves 2):

– 150g dried spaghetti

– Olive oil

– 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

– A generous sprinkle of dried herbs (e.g. oregano)

– Pine nuts

– Cherry tomatoes

– Rocket

1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti, along with a splash of olive oil. I always find it easiest to break up the spaghetti (although this is probably very un-Italian). Simmer for around 10 mins until tender, stirring occasionally.

2. When the spaghetti has about 5 minutes left, heat a good splash of olive oil in a separate pan and add the garlic and herbs. Sautee very gently over a low heat without allowing the garlic to  go brown. After a minute or two, add the pine nuts, rocket and tomatoes.

3. When the spaghetti is tender, stir into the sauce and enjoy.

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Dessert

Time for another blogging confession I’m afraid. I’m running a few days behind and can’t remember what I had for dessert! Fruit and dairy-free chocolate is probably the most likely option and I’ll be catching up on myself at the weekend.

A sandwich that should never work

 Breakfast

Porridge with soya milk, golden syrup and blueberries

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An irresistible breakfast choice that might actually be quite healthy if it wasn’t for the golden syrup!

Lunch

Hummus and beetroot sandwich, nuts, fruit, Nakd bar

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This is another surprising sandwich filling that sounds odd but actually works really well. You literally just make a hummus sandwich and add slices of cooked beetroot (i.e. the vacuum packed kind). Without subjecting you to a dull flavour analysis, I’d imagine it’s the slightly sweet taste of the beetroot that goes nicely with the savoury hummus. Just to balance out the healthiness, I also had some salt and vinegar peanuts (available in Sainsbury’s).

Dinner

Chickpea salad, crusty bread

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I was in the slightly ridiculous situation of finishing lunch at about 4pm again, so opted for a late and fairly light dinner. To make the salad, I just put some watercress in a bowl, then added a few spoonfuls of chickpeas (from a tin), cherry tomatoes and a handful of raisin and nut mix, plus a drizzle of olive oil. It worked really well, especially with a par-bake baguette.

Dessert

Neapolitan ice cream

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I’ve been eating this a bit too regularly but it is very good. It’s the Swedish Glace brand, and you can buy the Neapolitan flavour in large Sainsbury’s stores or health food shops. Even if you’re not in one of these places, ice cream loving vegans rarely have to miss out, as even small supermarkets tend to stock at least one flavour of Swedish Glace. Failing that, sorbets are normally dairy-free, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to go without a sugary frozen dessert!

How to veganize a traditional English side dish

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk

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This is a great option if you’re in a hurry as it doesn’t even require any toasting. This time I added a sprinkle of Maple Sunrise cereal for added sugariness.

Lunch

Bagel with avocado, tomato and vegan mayo, nuts, blueberries, sesame snaps

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This is another variation on the avocado-based sandwich filling. Chopped cherry tomatoes are a good addition, as the juiciness goes nicely with the creamy avocado. Cucumber is another good choice for creating a similarly juicy result. Sesame snaps are definitely addictive and their lightness makes them a tempting way to satisfy your sugar cravings!

Dinner

Falafel, sweet potato mash, salad

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The plan was to bake the sweet potatoes, but decreased time and increased hungriness resulted in a definite shortcut. Any kind of mashed potato makes a great side dish, but sweet potatoes have an especially lovely flavour. Whether sweet or standard, mashed potato doesn’t need dairy to make it creamy as you can stir in vegan margarine and/or soya cream for delicious results. I cooked my sweet potatoes in veggie stock for added flavour but this isn’t crucial. I didn’t have any vegan sausages to make the traditional English classic, so opted for some falafel instead. Falafel is generally a pretty reliable vegan staple, although the Cauldron Moroccan Spiced Falafel Bites do have honey in. I used Tesco’s own brand of frozen falafel which is an ideal ingredient to stow away for emergency meals. The dips (essential for falafel) were hummus and Vegan mayonnaise (the Plamil brand).

Dessert

Chocolate soya dessert, blueberries

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I just put one of the Alpro soya desserts into a vaguely attractive pot and topped it with some fresh blueberries. The Alpro soya desserts are one of my favourite products and you can find them even in small supermarkets, next to the gluten-free products. Unfortunately the photo is rather dominated by the blueberries, but the chocolate dessert was very noticeable at the time of eating!